Ann (Left) with Pat receiving one of many prizes in their rallying career together
Pat (Left) and Ann with their 1959 Monte Carlo Rally Austin A40
Ann Riley (nee Wisdom)
28 May 1934 to 14 October 2015
by Stuart Turner
We are very sorry to report the passing of Ann Riley (born Ann Wisdom), on 14 October 2015, after fighting illness.
Pat Moss's long-time co-driver in international rallying, Ann and Pat
were one of the most formidable and successful teams in the sport, not
only in the Ladies' category, which they habitually dominated, but
competitive at the same level as the men in this exciting, colourful
and gruelling sport.
Pat and Ann were prominent competitors from
1956 to 1962, after which Ann retired to start her family, but it was
the duo's outstanding success as outright winners of the
four-day/four-night Liege-Rome-Liege Rally, which made them legendary
in motor sporting circles. Their long-time friend, and later team
manager, Stuart Turner, always described this as one of the most
amazing drives he had ever seen.
Born in May 1934, Ann was the
daughter of Tommy and Elsie (nicknamed 'Bill') Wisdom, both of whom
were themselves established in European motorsport. While finding time
to become the doyen of British motoring writers (he was Motoring
Correspondent of the Daily Herald for many years), Tommy raced and
rallied for 'works' teams from the 1930s to the 1960s, including 23
Monte Carlo Rallies. Elsie became one of Britain's foremost lady
drivers of the 1930s; it was her gritty ability, in the male-orientated
sport of the time, that gained her the affectionate nickname of 'Bill'.
many girls in her active social class, Ann Marie Wisdom (who soon
became known as 'Wiz' by all who knew her) grew up around horses and
horse jumping events, yet it was apparently at a BRDC dinner that she
first met Pat Moss, who had spent her teenage years in the same sport.
The two became firm friends, and 'Wiz' became a groom to Pat's
increasingly successful stable of horses.
Almost inevitably, the
two took up rallying together, originally in Pat's own Triumph TR2,
where 'Wiz' became the competitive and very accomplished co-driver in
the team. Although she often suffered from car sickness, she never let
this get in the way, always determined to finish at all costs. On the
famous Liege-Rome-Liege outing, for instance, she shrugged off the
impression of burning trees crossing the road (an impression brought on
by exhaustion), and cheerfully admitted to dousing herself under the
parish pump in the village squares which they encountered along the way.
first international rally appearance with Pat Moss was in an MGA in the
1956 RAC rally; her first major success followed, when Pat and she took
fourth place overall on the RAC and Liege-Rome-Liege events of 1958.
The duo became European Ladies' Champions at the end of that year, and
became one of the most successful teams in the famous BMC 'works' team.
BMC team captain John Gott commented at the time: "Together, the girls form a team, but apart each is less than half a team."
team manager Marcus Chambers said: "Whilst Pat was an extrovert, Ann
was much more the novelist's heroine - emotional, temperamental and
fastidious. Her dress sense was excellent and she planned her wardrobe
to suit the conditions."
Thereafter, the two seemed inseparable
in their sport, though both found time for lasting romances: Pat took
up with Erik Carlsson, while Ann met and fell in love with rally driver
Peter Riley. Ann later admitted: "Peter saved me from making an
unsuitable marriage, and we then fell in love and married. . ."
the Moss/Wisdom rally partnership was at its height, the two drove cars
as varied as the ultra-powerful Austin-Healey 3000, the Morris Minor
1000, the Austin A40, and the Saab 96, but it was in a
front-wheel-drive Mini-Cooper that the two won the Tulip rally outright
In the meantime, 'Wiz' had married Peter Riley in March
1962 (the wedding service being carried out by the rallying parson, the
Rev. Rupert Jones), and it was immediately after the Tulip that 'Wiz'
announced that she was expecting her first baby and was retiring from
It was almost a clean break from the sport which had
made her deservedly famous, although she returned occasionally: in
1963, to co-drive for Pat in 'works' Ford Cortinas, and a 'works' Saab
96 on the East-African Safari, where they finished second overall. Her
last appearance was on the Acropolis rally, where Pat and she took
Once retired, 'Wiz' took up a full and active
family life, which not only featured the birth of two children - Jenny
and Tim - but the building-up of a rural business, initially with
horses, then with cattle.
Always a fierce competitor, she
successfully showed and evented horses in the 1960s and 1970s, before
moving into the breeding of commercial cattle in the 1980s and 1990s.
Finally, she established a pedigree Hereford cattle herd in the 2000s,
which won numerous prizes, both as a herd, and with individual animals.
is remarkable to note that - as a twist of fate - both Pat and Ann died
on the same day of the year (14 October), separated by exactly seven
years. Seven was Pat and Ann's lucky number, which they always tried to
include in the number plate or competition number of their cars.
husband Peter, along with her daughter Jenny and son Tim, survive her.
Backed by the thousands of friends and fans who admired the Moss/Wisdom
partnership, they will miss her greatly.
Updated 24 October 2015